Kimchi Chronicles with Marja Vongerichten

Marja Vongerichten is the host of a new PBS television series about Korean food and culture titled Kimchi Chronicles. It is scheduled to debut Summer 2011 with 13 episodes.

According to the Kimchi Chronicles Facebook page, “Each episode will be a combination of eating extravaganza and picturesque travelogue with food serving as a vehicle to meet and celebrate the people, places and traditions of Korea.

The show will feature guest celebrities such as actor Hugh Jackman and actress Heather Graham. Along with the show, Marja is also working on publishing a Korean cookbook.

Marja was born in Korea to a Korean mother and an American soldier. She was later adopted at the age of 3 by a Virginia family in 1979. Later in life, she reunited with her birth mother in New York. She was Miss District of Columbia Teen USA 1991 (as Marja Allen) and has worked as an actress and model.

An interesting side note is that Marja’s husband is world renown chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten. He will have a small role in the show as well. The couple currently reside in New York.

As Kimchi Chronicles gets closer to being televised we hope to learn more about Marja and the show. We’ll be sure to keep you all posted.

Here is video from the Kimchi Chronicles press conference in Seoul, Korea:

Here is a short video from SBS with Marja and her birth mother:

Kimchi Chronicles
Kimchi Chronicles on Facebook
The New York Times – ‘The Kimchi Chronicles’ Video Preview
The New York Times – Kimchi Chronicles
Korea Times – “김치를 소개합니다”
The Chosun Ilbo – “Celebrity Chef’s Wife Returns to Ancestral Home”

Marja and husband Jean-Georges Vongerichten
Image courtesy of

Marja with actress Heather Graham at Kimchi Chronicles press conference
Image courtesy of

Kimchi Chronicles
Image courtesy of Kimchi Chronicles Facebook


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  1. Joseph Mallon
    Posted May 22, 2011 at 2:03 pm | Permalink

    I had the pleasure of working alongside Chef Jean-Georges serving his amazing food for one evening.Didn’t know of his reputation until my chef friend said,” You were working with Chef Jean-Georges!.” I was very impressed by his genuinely gracious and friendly demeanor.
    So when I came upon his stunning wife Marja and their (I assume new) Korean cuisine program I was intrigued.
    What a fantastic program! Such beautiful photography and food, and the chemistry between Jean-Georges and Maja is a show within a show. These two like cooking together.
    Best of luck with the show. Looking forward to watching again.
    You got me thinking Korea for my 50th birthday this year.

  2. Jim Strain
    Posted June 27, 2011 at 11:18 am | Permalink

    You might remember from, we meet a while ago. One night at “G” lounge and you were with a friend.
    Just wanted to give you my new info as I left Douglas Elliman (Real Estate)

    Jim Strain 917-302-1828
    Benjamin James Realty
    120 W 21st
    NY, NY 10011
    212-645-4477 (O)
    212-645-1123 (F)

    I saw your show on TV the other day and I thought it was great and it reminded me to say Hello!

  3. ho_jon
    Posted July 31, 2011 at 9:34 pm | Permalink

    Miss Marja, your beauty could wral tbis hate filled world in a loving embrace and fill it’s sorrow with love and embrace..forever..

  4. Posted August 25, 2011 at 7:46 pm | Permalink

    There are few more facts about Marja Vongerichten (nee Allen). Her biological father was an African American, which was the main reason why she got her dark complexion (not as ugly as many of us have thought). Her mother was a Korean woman named Bae Yeong-Ae (배영애/裵英愛), with Bae (배/裵) as the surname of her mother (see the video clip from YouTube called “Marja Vongerichten Interview with SBS News”). She was born in March 15th, 1976 (a hot, fire dragon) as Brenda Bae, but her name was changed to Marja Allen (Marja is actually a combined name of her foster mother Margo (mar) and her foster father James (ja)) after she was adopted by her foster parents. She now has a daughter named Chloe, who is now half French Alsatian, a quarter African American, and a quarter Korean. (I’ve seen the picture of Chloe in a book called The Kimchi Chronicles and she looks more like Israeli, southern Italian, or Portuguese.)

  5. stuart forgash
    Posted August 28, 2011 at 2:23 pm | Permalink

    I love to cook and will always experiment with new dishes. I recently saw an episode of the Kimchi chronicles and could not stop salivating.
    Please, when is your cookbook coming out? Please let me know by e mail if possible.

    Respectfully yours, anxious and hungry.

  6. Hampton P
    Posted September 12, 2011 at 2:55 pm | Permalink

    I have seen your show on PBS several times. It is simply great! Your personality along with the loving and respectful relationship you have with your husband and your guest MAKE THE SHOW! Plus the Korean dishes are outstanding! You are the most beautiful Korean dish of course! Thanks to you my next cruise/trip will be to Korea!

    Many blessings to you and yours.


  7. Posted September 25, 2011 at 7:57 am | Permalink

    I dvr this show, it is great. Thank you for sharing yourself with us.

    Casey Silva

  8. Helen
    Posted September 26, 2011 at 6:23 pm | Permalink

    Kimchi Cronicles introduces Korean culture and food with a lot of humor, respect and most importantly – very personal, emotional and proud touch by Marja. I know Hines Ward of NFA is half black/half Korean returned to his birthplace of Seoul, he donated $1 million USD to create the Hines Ward Helping Hands Foundation, which the AP called “a foundation to help mixed-race children like himself in South Korea, where they have suffered discrimination. Marja, though Kimchi Cronicles, is doing exactly the same thing. Proud black/Korean woman who’s putting herself forward for herself and others just like her. I love her!

  9. bryan J
    Posted September 27, 2011 at 6:54 pm | Permalink

    hey GREAT show!!!!!! it was pretty cool..seeing Pusan again..Makli.. Soju..Kimchi..(important stuff for the 18 year old Marine) cant wait for the mandoo and the Bul-go-gi .. LOVED Korea.. even the darn mountains..

  10. sharon barrett
    Posted September 29, 2011 at 5:44 pm | Permalink

    Your show is beautiful, interesting and educational–so enjoyable. Thank you — Good Job!!

  11. Valerie
    Posted October 1, 2011 at 8:52 pm | Permalink

    A few years ago I tried Kimchi for the first time and loved it. It was a nice surprise to watch your show and discover more delicious kimchi dishes as well as other great Korean delicacies. Your family story behind Kimchi Chronicles is as beautiful as you are. Looking foward to next weeks episode!

  12. sawney bean
    Posted October 8, 2011 at 3:04 pm | Permalink

    Why didn’t we ever see her American parents? I thought that was sad, that they were excluded from the show.

  13. Beverly P
    Posted November 23, 2011 at 2:22 pm | Permalink

    Sawney, when the episodes come on, a picture of her American family is shown. The show is about Korea, so they focused on her Korean roots. Her American parents are not Korean.

    Marja’s daughter is the spitting image of Jean Georges. She is a carbon copy of him!

  14. Posted January 16, 2012 at 8:39 am | Permalink

    I enjoy the show and it has made me want to try Korean food. However, I was disturbed that there was no representation from her AfricaAmerican side of the family shown or made mention. Her husband’s French side (brothers, neices and nephews) were showcasted as well as her Korean side. Is she ashamed? Weren’t Blacks her adopt parents? She found her birth mother, how about her birth father?

  15. Posted May 13, 2012 at 12:03 pm | Permalink

    I wonder why the promo for this show acts like the host will be Mr. Jackman. He even says that each week cooking will be done in HIS kitchen. I could hardly wait to watch the show and was disappointed to find Marja instead of Hugh Jackman. Which leaves me wondering what is going on. Why a false promo?!

  16. mija
    Posted August 16, 2012 at 4:21 am | Permalink

    I just fell in love with you and jean george. my story is almost like you. my husband is also french. i love the kimchi chronicles. love you

  17. Jean
    Posted March 23, 2013 at 2:17 pm | Permalink

    Just saw my first episode of Kimchi Chronicles on tv! Fabulous! Fun! Foodilicious! Marja, your Korean is better than mine! 🙂 I can tell you are as beautiful in the inside as you are on the outside. Chloe is such a lucky girl to have such loving parents as you and Jean-Georges. Continued success in food, love and family…

  18. Alicia Cazenave
    Posted May 21, 2013 at 3:52 am | Permalink

    I love the show, but as Karen Fisher (and others) mentioned, there is no representation of the African-American side of Marja’s family. I, too, wondered if she is ashamed of her heritage. No black friends, no black family, and no “SEOUL” food. I also challenge her to do a segment about other half – black, half-Korean children born about the same time frame as she, who actually grew up in Korea, since she’s always there. Take Hines Ward with her, rather than Heather. This show could be sooooooo much better!

  19. Cortez Carter
    Posted March 28, 2015 at 8:56 pm | Permalink

    Marja, I’m just MUST be your biggest fan! I recently took a kimchi making class at my local H Mart where your DVDS and book when on sale. I got them both!

    Thanks for an amazing series filled fun, food and a frank vulnerability about your upbringing and heritage like no other. I’m just a foodie from Chicago livimg in Falls Church Va. But often I get to impress my wife by transforming our kitchen into my own very of Kimchi Chronicle set. We are Af/Am but my wife is an engineer with Samsung. You can just imagine how impressed (or confused) her co-workers must be when she brings in homemade Gamja Tang or Hamul Pajeon! Lol

    We are planning our first trip to Bosan and Seoul. I will be channeling you the whole way.

    All the best to you and your family.

    Cortez Carter

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